Justice for Frank Paul!
Interview with Kat Norris, coordinator of the Indigenous Action Movement
By Esteban Gonzalez Arteaga
Frank Paul was the victim of Vancouver police department brutality and racism. They brutalized him and dropped him in the alley to freeze to death. Fire This Time has published a number of articles about this injustice against Frank Paul and Indigenous people in Canada. Kat Norris, the founder and coordinator of Indigenous Action Movement is the most active organizer for Justice for Frank Paul. Kat Norris also is a long time prominent social justice activist in British Columbia and Canada. Recently Fire This Time had the opportunity to interview her on the latest development of the Frank Paul case.
Fire This Time: What are some of the recent developments in the Inquiry into the death of Frank Paul?
Kat Norris: What’s happening is that the inquiry is starting up again. On April 2nd, Peggy Clement, Frank Paul’s cousin, is flying into town to support the testimony of Dana Urban. Dana Urban was a former assistant to Don Morrison, who was one of the principal people rejecting the call for a public inquiry. He didn’t see that there should be any charges laid, and didn’t even want to get into the investigation of what really happened to Frank Paul. It’s a really important day for people to show up to support.
So, we are just seeing how that plays out. We’re organizing the rally, simply because there should be more noise made around this injustice.
Anyone that is supporting the call for justice for Frank Paul is at the low end of the totem pole in terms of the justice system, because a lot of them work within that system, and their in the minority. The government worked with the justice system to insure that our people don’t achieve justice, that the police and RCMP, their views and their actions, are favored. Which is something that affects all of society not only Indigenous people. We’re looking for society to come on board to support this case, because if Frank Paul doesn’t get justice then it favors interests and it favors the police. Basically they have complete freedom to do what they do without worrying about being accountable for their actions.
The other development is that the BC Criminal Justice Branch is looking to get a judicial review for the ruling on Frank Paul’s Case. I feel that that is very race-based because what they are doing is trying to fight the decision of the judge who is asking why wasn’t anything done, why were no charges being laid, why wasn’t it looked at more in depth. The fact that they’re fighting for that shows that the system is again supporting the police.
The commissioner William Davis, who is the one who is heading the inquiry into the death of Frank Paul, ruled last month that he wants five prosecutors to provide information on what procedures they followed in deciding not to recommend charges against the officer who left Paul in the alley. He wants to know what steps they took, but Stan Lowe, who speaks for the crown, is trying to stall that. I don’t understand, he’s saying that if they’re made to do that “special interest groups” will put pressure on the crown prosecutor. We Indigenous people are those “special interest groups” and putting that cliché name to people that are interested in justice, real justice, it’s downplaying, and making it look like we are just interested in what we gain out of it. But, what we are gaining out of it is justice.
FTT: What are your expectations for the Case in the coming period?
KN: Bottom line - what we are looking for is accountability, whether for police brutality or for justice system inaction. Those two things are really important, so many of our people have died at the hands of the police, died in police custody, all across what is now called Canada, all across Turtle Island. I think that with Frank Paul’s case, it’s so big, that it can set a big precedent as to how are people are dealt with. If justice is shown, it’s going to be a big victory for the people, a big victory for justice, a big victory for society.
FTT: What does the outcome of this case, the case itself, mean to Indigenous people, how is it connected to other struggles of Indigenous people?
KN: Indigenous people around the world that face injustice at the hands of an oppressive government, colonialism, which speaks for the fact that they work with the other powers that be, global interests, it’s all about the almighty dollar, lands and resources. Lands and resources are the be all and end all of private property and capitalism. All the lands and resources belong to different Indigenous cultures around the world, and to continue to oppress our human rights, our very lives, is key to their success.
Frank Paul, represents all of our people who have suffered through the residential schools system, he was a victim of the residential school system, therefore of colonialization and the reserve system. He represents much more than just himself, he represents all of us who have gone through all the abuses that you can name, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse. He represents all of that.
That is why so many of our people are following this case, because they know that he went to residential school, so they know why he was in the downtown east side, why he became an alcoholic.
As long as more and more people, more and more of society, more indigenous cultures, are supporting this cause, groups like the Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, all the grass-roots groups, there are so many blogs, there are so many independent newspapers are publicizing the reality, not the covered up stuff, that’s pretty cool.
FTT: This is a battle that you’ve been in for a really long time, what do you think has been achieved thus far?
KN: As I mentioned all the support that we’re gaining. Even our leaders, organizations that normally wouldn’t work together, are working together and are forming specific groups just for this cause. There are groups that are coming together to work with the police, because of Frank Paul’s case. So many things are happening right now because of Frank Paul, so he’s already made change, and he will continue to.
FTT: Thank you very much.
Back to Article Listing